Freight train runs 80 km from J&K to Punjab ‘without driver’, probe ordered

08:00PM Sun 25 Feb, 2024

The Railways on February 25 ordered a probe after a freight train travelled more than 80 km from Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua to Punjab’s Hoshiarpur district without drivers.

An official said the 53-wagon diesel locomotive freight drove away from the Kathua station without a driver. “An inquiry has been ordered into the incident that took place between 7.25 a.m. and 9 a.m.,” the Divisional Traffic Manager said in a statement.

The train caused a scare on the tracks. Officials said no casualty or damage to property was reported.

Preliminary reports suggested that the freight train was at a halt at the Kathua station for driver change and started running towards Pathankot due to a slope. The vehicle was later stopped near Ucchi Bassi in Punjab’s Mukerian. 

Both drivers — loco pilot and assistant loco pilot — were not on board the freight train, the officials said.

Official sources suggested that the driver may have forgotten to pull the handbrake before deboarding from it.

The train, loaded with stone material, managed to cross about five stations before it was stopped.

 The train was halted by the railway staff by placing wooden blocks on the tracks, which managed to reduce its speed.

Whether the train had been “secured” properly at Kathua on the down gradient is a matter of investigation.

Railway officials and staffers were put on alert along the route.

Government Railway Police (Jalandhar) Sub-Inspector Ashok Kumar said upon receiving information about the runaway train all rail-road crossings on the Jalandhar-Pathankot section were secured.

(With PTI inputs)